Addition of Simvastatin to Standard Therapy for the Prevention of Variceal Rebleeding Does Not Reduce Rebleeding but Increases Survival in Patients with Cirrhosis

Juan G. Abraldes, Candid Villanueva, Carles Aracil, Juan Turnes, Manuel Hernandez-Guerra, Joan Genesca, Manuel Rodriguez, Jose Castellote, Juan Carlos García-Pagán, Ferran Torres, Jose Luis Calleja, Agustin Albillos, Jaime Bosch, Salvador Augustin, Elba Llop, Dalia Morales Arraez, Goretti Hernández Mesa, Javier Martinez, Enric Reverter, Susana SeijoFanny Turon, Josep Miñana, Juan Buenestado, Josep M. Reñe, Carmen A. Navacués, Ramon Planas, Rosa M. Morillas, Pau Bellot, Jose Such, Mercedes Vergara, Angela Puente, Joaquin De La Pena, José Mera Calviño, Laura Rivas Moral, Oana Pavel, Edilmar Alvarado, Alba Ardevol, Anna Girbau, Alba Cachero, Joan Albert Arnaiz, Annalisa Berzigotti, Judit Pich, Jose Rios, Rosa Saenz, Laura Millan, Helena Beleta, Núria Ramos

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© 2016 AGA Institute. Background & Aims The combination of β-blockers and band ligation is the standard approach to prevent variceal rebleeding, but bleeding recurs and mortality is high. The lipid-lowering drug simvastatin decreases portal pressure, improves hepatocellular function, and might reduce liver fibrosis. We assessed whether adding simvastatin to standard therapy could reduce rebleeding and death after variceal bleeding in patients with cirrhosis. Methods We performed a multicenter, double-blind, parallel trial of 158 patients with cirrhosis receiving standard prophylaxis to prevent rebleeding (a β-blocker and band ligation) in Spain from October 2010 through October 2013. Within 10 days of bleeding, subjects were randomly assigned, but stratified by Child-Pugh class of A or B vs C, to groups given simvastatin (20 mg/d the first 15 days, 40 mg/d thereafter; n = 69) or placebo (n = 78). Patients were followed for as long as 24 months. The primary end point was a composite of rebleeding and death, and main secondary end points were the individual components of the composite (death and rebleeding). Results The primary end point was met by 30 of 78 patients in the placebo group and 22 of 69 in the simvastatin group (P =.423). Seventeen patients in the placebo group died (22%) vs 6 patients in the simvastatin group (9%) (hazard ratio for adding simvastatin to therapy = 0.39; 95% confidence interval: 0.15-0.99; P =.030). Simvastatin did not increase survival of patients with Child-Pugh class C cirrhosis. Rebleeding occurred in 28% of patients in the placebo group and 25% in the simvastatin group (P =.583). Serious adverse events occurred in 53% of patients in the placebo group and 49% in the simvastatin group (P =.752); the percentages of serious adverse events related to therapy were 11% in the placebo group vs 8% in the in the simvastatin group (P =.599). Two patients in the simvastatin group, each with advanced liver disease, developed rhabdomyolysis. Conclusions In a randomized controlled trial, addition of simvastatin to standard therapy did not reduce rebleeding, but was associated with a survival benefit for patients with Child-Pugh class A or B cirrhosis. Survival was not the primary end point of the study, so these results require validation. The incidence of rhabdomyolysis in patients receiving 40 mg/d simvastatin was higher than expected. European Clinical Trial Database ID: EUDRACT 2009-016500-24; ID: NCT01095185.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1160-1170.e3
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • Fibrosis
  • Liver Disease
  • Muscle Effects
  • Treatment


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